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  1. #1
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    A new drivetrain for my Gitane

    Hi All. Thank you for reading my post. I have a 1972 Gitane Tour de France that I need to upgrade for a second time. In 1992 I had a shop put all new parts on it except for the wheels. The 6 speed and 105 components worked well commuting around Grand Junction, CO but now that I live at 7200' on the side of Grand Mesa I find I have neither the legs nor the low gears to climb the hill. It is ten miles and a drop of 2000' to the valley floor and the road tops out on the Grand Mesa at 10200'. According to my topo map the north/south roads are about 4-6% slope. Some of the east/west roads are level but there are 8-11% grades to get to them. The last half mile to my house is a 7% climb. My front chainrings are 53/ 42 and the freewheel is 14-28. I am 6'6", 175 lbs and on the wrong side of 50.
    I have read dozens of posts on different bulletin boards. Here is a list of what I think I need to do to get a range of gear inches from about 20 to 100.

    1. Spread the rear spacing from 120mm to 130mm using Sheldon's 2x4 technique or with a threaded bar and wing nuts. I am not clear how to do the fork end alignment with a pipe wrench or whether it will even be necessary.

    2. Install a 26/36/48 Sugino XD crank from Yellow Jersey with a un72 113mm spindle. I'm not sure what the mechanic did in 1992 to fit the 105 cranks in the French bottom bracket. The fixed cup says "Japan Tioga 1.37x24t". I do not have the right tools to pull the crank to take a closer look. My crank puller fits the original Stronglight crank.

    3. Replace double front dr with a triple. Will a 105 or Ultegra work with the 36/48 large rings and the 12 tooth gap or do I need an LX?

    4. Install new wheels: Mavic Open Pro with Ultegra hubs. I still have the orignals with Mavic rims and Campy hubs.

    5. Install a 13-30 cassette and a 9 spd chain. The goal is to have a range of GI from 20-100.

    6. About those shifters. I have only used the down tube variety but the Ergo shifters with the Hubub technique or a Shiftmate sounds good. Even bar ends would be a step up for me.

    7. Install a long cage 105 or Ultegra or an LX?

    8. Buy the necessary tools to do the work: crank puller, bottom bracket tools, chain whips.

    I am not married to any one solution nor to even trying to use the Gitane. I researched new bikes and narrowed my choices to Bianchi, LeMond, or Jamis steel bikes. I went so far as to order a $1400 Jamis Quest before I realized it didn't have low enough gears. The shop would need to charge me another $275 to change the drivetrain. I see Fuji and Cannondale have touring bikes with low gearing. If the Gitane frame can be spread it seems my money would be better spent on putting on components I want. What do you think?

    I would also consider keeping the 120mm spacing and a 6 spd freewheel if I thought overhauling 35 year old Campy hubs was worthwhile. I don't really trust the original Mavic rims but that may just be my bias. But I would still need to use a different crankset to get a 20 to 100 range and at the moment I don't see how to do it.

    I am suffering from analysis paralysis so any suggestions, opinions, or words of wisdom will be appreciated.
    Waiting to ride( it's been 12 years!), Jim Brantley, Cedaredge, CO

  2. #2
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    My first question is always: "What are you trying to accomplish?"

    When you're changing out so many parts you're usually economically better off to get a brand new bike because every single part will be brand new and designed to work with every other part. You'll also get a new bike warranty. The downside is that it isn't as much fun as doing it yourself. If you are delighted with the fit of the Gitane, it might be worth doing.

    1. Spreading the stays will be easier than you think. You shouldn't have to do anything to the fork because front wheels have been 100mm OLD forever.

    2. 1.37 x 24 means you have an English threaded bottom bracket. That's a good thing because they are easy to find. Since you're sticking with square taper you'll want to buy the crank puller that fits your Tioga crank. It'll fit your new Sugino crank too. Buy a splined bottom bracket tool to fit a new Shimano UN-52 or UN-72 cartridge bottom bracket. Do whatever you have to do to get your old one out.

    3. Front derailleur is pretty much a toss up. An Ultegra or 105 is going to rub the top of the chainring while an LX is going to rub on the back. I think that I'd go with the road triple.

    6. Bar end shifters are economical and you won't have to buy new brake levers. You'll have few, if any, front shifting issues with the friction shifting bar ends.

    7. With a 30 tooth big cog an Ultegra or 105 derailleur is a stretch but can usually be made to work. An LX will work for sure. If I was buying a new one, that's what I'd get.

    Good luck!

  3. #3
    Junior Member
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    Thank you Retro. What I am trying to accomplish to get a bike with gears to climb the Rockies with 50 year old long legs. No bike shop in 400 miles had a bike in my size nor was willing to order one on spec. My Gitane fits and the price is right. Your advice is appreciated. Jim

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